Behind Fausto Carmona's struggles

Fausto Carmona has struggled in the first half of the 2011 season. Bob Levey/Icon SMI

In a surprisingly successful season for the Cleveland Indians, there has been little success for Fausto Carmona. His first 16 starts have gone about as poorly as possible, as he carries a 4-9 record and a 6.17 ERA into Sunday night's start against the San Francisco Giants. Carmona's career has been very up and down since he broke into the bigs. After a successful 2010 season, in which he posted a 3.77 ERA in 210 innings, resulting in 2.7 wins above replacement, 2011 has been another downturn on Fausto's roller-coaster ride.

There are statistical indicators which suggest Carmona could be on his way back in the second half of the season. Despite his horrible results, Carmona's xFIP -- an ERA estimator based on strikeouts, walks and ground balls induced, the three most controllable aspects of pitching -- actually is lower than it was last year: 3.99 currently against 4.25 in 2010. As xFIP does a much better job of estimating future ERA than ERA itself, we should expect Carmona's results to improve greatly in the second half of the season. But don't just take xFIP's word for it. There are two factors behind Carmona's impending improvement: His unsustainable poor results with runners on base and home runs allowed should be about to subside.

Carmona has his share of awful starts this season. In six of his 19 starts to date, the 27-year-old has allowed at least six earned runs. Typically, we would expect these to be starts in which runner after runner reached base against Carmona, with either a hit parade or a merry-go-round of walks, but that has rarely been the case. In each of those six starts, Carmona didn't allow more than 12 total baserunners. Overall, 46 out of 65 baserunners came around to score, for a strand rate of 29 percent, well below Carmona's career rate of 69 percent and the league rate of 72 percent.